Thursday, December 21, 2006

Interview With Editor Jenny Hutton - Pt 2.

Today at The Pink Heart Society we welcome back Mills and Boon Editor Jenny Hutton - with the second part of her interview!!!

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jenny for taking the time from her extremely busy schedule to answer our questions!!! We all agree that she's now officially an Honourary Pink Heart-er...

Where does the slush pile live and how do you decide who reads them?

Each day the unsolicited manuscripts go to a different editor depending on whose name is next on the rota. They are usually kept on a shelf next to the editor’s desk and they sit their patiently waiting to be read.

We do make a point of reading all the submissions that come in and try our very best to do it in a timely fashion. We are so busy here, but we are always on the lookout for fresh new talent.

We read all the submissions that are sent to us, maintain an open mind and treat all partials equally. Any feedback that we give will be to help the writer achieve their full potential – there are no veiled hidden messages. We are actively looking for fresh, new voices for our series.

The most frustrating thing is when we read submissions from people aiming for the series who haven’t read anything by Mills & Boon and don’t really know what the books are about. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of submissions coming in and each one is read, so anything that makes that process easier for the editor is welcomed. Just little things such as making sure the manuscript is double spaced, has an ordinary, legible font, and has the name and address clearly marked. Oh and make sure the synopsis is short and to the point. Simple things really.

What is the journey of a book from slush pile to publication?

Often a writer with a promising voice or encouraging style will be sent a revision letter by the editor who read her work (we do have many submissions from men but to make the typing easier I’m using her as the generic term!). They may suggest she reworks that submission or uses the suggestions to start on something new. The full manuscript may go through many more sets of revisions, and it may be that even then it hasn’t quite hit the mark. But this is never wasted time or energy – all that has been learnt whilst writing that particular submission can then be used on the next! Once the editor is happy with the story she will then pass it over to the senior editor of the targeted series. It could be that more revisions are requested even at that stage. It’s once the Senior Editor and the Editorial Director are happy that the ‘call’ is made…

What day of the week should people shadow the phone for THE CALL? Is it exciting to make that call???

There’s no accounting for which day it will be. I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be Saturday or Sunday, but other than that, it could be any day of the week! And if you’re not in, we do call back…

It’s not only exciting, it’s really rewarding. It’s fantastic knowing that the person on the other end of the phone has just been given this wonderful opportunity that they’ve worked so hard for.

How do you decide if a book is closer in tone to one line or the other if it lies 'on the cusp'?

From reading the submission it’s usually possible to tell where the author’s strengths lie and from that it’s possible to suggest which series they should target and which aspects of their writing they should develop. The authors generally know which series they want to target but if they are unsure themselves then we can chat through their ideas and what they feel most comfortable writing.

When you all look back on 2006 - what has given you the greatest buzzes and what are you particularly looking forward to in 2007?

The upcoming Royal House of Niroli continuity was a real treat to put together – it’s one not to miss. The launch of the new Romance line was a great deal of work but it was all certainly worth it, the books and covers are fantastic. RWA in Atlanta was definitely a buzz… lots of M&B authors winning awards – fabulous! They are the things that stand out in my mind but there have been so many tremendous successes over the past year that it’s difficult to pick out just a few.

For 2007… Niroli hitting the shelves will be a moment that I’m sure will make me very proud. We’re all looking forward to reading some fab new books and continuing on the search to find exciting new voices. Our 2007 schedule is already done and looking great. We’re looking ahead to 2008 now – The year of our 100th birthday! So there are celebrations to plan…

And here they all are - Harlequin Mills and Boon's very own Editorial team!!!

Top row, left to right – Sally Williamson, Suzy Harding, Maddie Rowe, Linda Fildew, Meg Sleightholme, Joanne Carr, Jenny Hutton, Karin Stoecker, Andrew Clark, Sheila Hodgson, Samantha Gough, Carolyn Smalley

Bottom Row – Tessa Shapcott, Tamara Campbell, Lucy Brown, Kimberley Young, Emily Ruston, Lydia Mason, Bryony Green.

On behalf of all The Pink Heart Society's members and visitors we would like to thank the London Editorial Team at Harlequin Mills and Boon for all their hard work and the great reads they have sent our way in 2006!!! We can't wait for 2007!!!


You can order all of the January 2007 books featured in this Blog though the Mills & Boon Website where you can also get all the information you need on submitting manuscripts to the Mills and Boon Editorial Team.


  1. Thanks it's really nice to be able to put faces to the names. I really enjoyed reading about how things work in Richmond.

    Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year.


  2. When Jenny describes the atmosphere in the HMB office as warm and friendly, she's being modest. It's all that, as well as a place that's the working home to one of the greatest bunch of people imaginable.

    Just to add some detail: it's an open plan but with separations between working areas, so everyone has some privacy but can still keep in touch with everyone else. And people add little bits of their own to their areas: photos, notes, things tacked to bulletin boards. Also, there are books everywhere, so many books I think any of us would instantly feel right at home.

    I've had the pleasure of visiting several times. One of the things that strikes me, each and every time, is that everyone, starting with the receptionis in the lobby downstairs, makes you feel most welcome.

    Thanks, Jenny, for bringing a touch of the UK and the HMB office to the Pink Heart blog. Makes me want to go straight back for another visit!

  3. Thank you again, Jenny. It is lovely to get to see the M&B team. I have enjoyed hearing your insights into the office process.

    Warm wishes,


  4. This was so great! Thank you so much to Jenny for answering our questions and to the PHS members for arranging it!

  5. As Chris said above, its nice to be able to put names to faces :o)
    Happy Holidays and a big thanks to Jenny for visiting the PHS and PHS for hosting this little event

  6. Jenny!

    Thanks for giving us the up-close glimpse of the HMB team!

    Not only is it interesting to get a peek into the other side of what we do, it sounds like an awesome place to be.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us.

    All best,
    Marian S

  7. Lovely pic - and thanks to Jenny for answering to the questions and to the PHS for hosting this.

    Merry Christmas!

  8. What a lovely festive picture!

    Thank you so much Jenny for taking the time of your busy schedule.

  9. Jenny, thank you so much for helping us put faces to names. Your workplace sounds wonderful.


  10. Oh my goodness, thank you so much for giving us an insight to what happens to our submissions.

    I'm more inspired than ever now, and to think that if I get lucky with my submission next year, it could come out the year of M&B's 100th birthday!!!! How inspiring is that?! I plan to work even harder next year...

    Sue :-)

  11. Jenny, thanks so much for taking the time to do the interview!

    Personally I can say that working with the Richmond office has been an absolute treat.

    And Merry Christmas to the whole editorial team. It's great to have a picture of everyone and put faces to names!

  12. Thank you, Jenny. I'll be able to picture my submission on a shelf when it goes off to Maddie after Christmas.

  13. Thank you, Jenny, for taking time out of a very busy life and job to answer questions here. The photo is great. Thanks so much -- and happy holidays to all!

  14. Jenny! So good to see how the inside opertions go. And good to know how solid the company is. I'll be looking foward to you sending me my first cover!
    Molly Evans